1. Welcome! Please take a few seconds to create your free account to post threads, make some friends, remove a few ads while surfing and much more. ClutchFans has been bringing fans together to talk Houston Sports since 1996. Join us!

Early Astros Observations

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by MadMax, Apr 7, 2002.

  1. Buck Turgidson

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2002
    Messages:
    87,940
    Likes Received:
    86,688
    Regarding the "situational hitting" argument, I think we're looking at a tremendously small sample size here; the good-ol' Law of Averages will even things out over the course of the season. In some cases, we haven't executed well (esp. sac bunts & sac flies); in others it's just luck (Ensberg's 2 DP's on Sunday). The Astros' .321 BA w/ runners in scoring postition (3rd in the NL) is pretty much the same as their .310 team average (tops in MLB). They've struck out 17 times w/ RISP (2nd most in NL), but also drawn 17 BB's (most in NL), keep in mind that their 81 AB's w/ RISP are tops in the NL. So, they're averaging 1 K per every 5.74 plate appearances w/ RISP (& a .464 OBP), very good #s if you ask me.

    You can look at the NL RISP stats here:
    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/stati...nl&sortColumn=avg&season=2&year=2002&split=39

    One aspect of "situational hitting" that I'll agree is a problem is driving in the runner from 3rd w/ less than 2 outs; the Stros have only 1 sac fly so far, but this trend won't continue.

    Also, in 3 of the 1st 6 games, we faced Morris, Kile & Sheets; you can't tell me that these aren't "high-strikeout" guys. They're not Schilling or The Unit, but their stuff is as nasty as anyone else's.
     
  2. Joe Joe

    Joe Joe Go Stros!
    Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 1999
    Messages:
    24,185
    Likes Received:
    14,292
    On the strikeout argument, I'd like to see a slugging^2/K ratio done. I expect the low strike out teams still have a lower slugging^2/K ratio, but this would separate the power teams that strikeout too much for the power numbers they generate.

    I squared the slugging because I'd say its more important than not striking out, but strikeouts are a side effect of many slugging teams. This would be my reason in why I think the statistical analysis done has the numbers it does.
     
  3. Major

    Major Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 1999
    Messages:
    41,446
    Likes Received:
    15,886
    Buck: I understand the statistical argument, and I can't really refute with numbers. However, if I watch 100 games and watch for these situations:

    (a) How often I would have preferred a groundout over a strikeout

    (b) How often I would have preferred a strikeout over a groundout

    In 90 of the 100 games, I'll see more of Situation A than Situation B. That tells me that strikeouts are worse than groundouts. Why it doesn't show up in the stats, I don't know. But there are lots of things that don't show up in the stats.

    For simplicity, I'm going to use a 100 game season in this example. Take Team A -- they score 500 runs in a season, scoring 5 every game. They give up 400 runs in the season, giving up 4 every game. Team B, on the other hand, scores 600 runs in a season, but scores 0 then 12, then 0 then 12, etc. They give up only 200 runs, 2 every game.

    Team A outscored people 500-400, but went 100-0. Team B outscored people 600-200, but went 50-50. Put that in any of those runs-created formulas and they'll be confounded -- because none of them take into account the importance of consistency. People always say the power game vs small-ball / speed / defense is the same, but I argue that the latter produces far more consistency. I think the same is true in the strikeout situation, because you're able to get more "small innings" (groundout RBI's, sac flies, etc), but fewer big innings (due to double plays).

    That's only way I can think of it in statistical terms, and I have no idea if that's reasonable.
     
  4. Buck Turgidson

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2002
    Messages:
    87,940
    Likes Received:
    86,688
    I think it depends on what kind of groundout you're talking about, and you also have to factor in the # of outs in an inning.

    There are 8 possible baserunner situations (what I don't know is the % of total plate appearances each situation constitutes):

    bases empty
    1st
    2nd
    3rd
    1st & 2nd
    1st, 2nd & 3rd
    1st & 3rd
    2nd & 3rd

    In 4 of those 8 situations, a ground ball gives the distinct possibility of a double play. What % of ground balls are of the double play variety? I don't know, 50% maybe? What about ground balls that produce only 1 out but don't advance a baserunner? What about fly balls? I'm not sure there's any statistical way to gauge the desirability of K's vs. groundballs, given all the variables & unknowns.

    True, except neither of those situations occur. All teams are inconsistent offensively, we're just concerned with the patterns. What team epitomizes the concept of "smallball" to you? It may be a gargantuan task, but it would be interesting to analyze their offensive production over the course of a year vs. a "slugging" team & see how close both are to the theoretical examples you gave.

    I don't either, but it sure makes for an interesting discussion though. The more I think about it, the less sure I am that you can make a blanket statement like "high strikeout totals aren't that important", or vice-versa. To me, high K totals are acceptable, as long as they take a comparable # of walks (i.e Thome, Bagwell, Giambi etc...).
     
  5. Milos

    Milos Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2001
    Messages:
    1,237
    Likes Received:
    1,140
    For a team which will only be considered a success if they finally win in the playoffs, I am confused about some of their moves:

    1) The outfield...I understand the reason behind playing Ward, Berkman, and Hidalgo at the same time(all three are capable of .300+/30/100). But in the playoffs, pitching and defense take center stage, and Berkman in CF with Ward in LF is a nightmare.

    Just last year we saw this: Lugo's crucial errors may very well have cost us the series. To correct this problem, we've given SS to Everett, and I agree with this move. It seems contradicting, however, to give up offense for defense at short, while sacrificing D in the outfield.

    Together, those three are probably the slowest outfield in the majors, and a misplay in the outfield can be much more disastrous than one in the infield. Lugo gave Atlanta a couple of extra outs last year, but when I see Ward dive for a ball that rolls past him to the wall, that's an extra out plus 2 or 3 bases.

    2) The bullpen...to me, the resurgence of the bullpen was the single most important element in our making the playoffs last year. Yet for some reason, management has decided to roll the dice with castoffs like Matthews and Pichardo this year. The only reliable lefty we have is Wagner, and unless Brocail comes back with a great year(which I highly doubt), all we have on the right side is Dotel.

    Can someone please explain to me why we let Villone, Mike Jackson, and Williams walk right out the door? At the very least, we should have kept Villone. He saved our asses countles times with his long relief, and would have given us a versatile lefty in the middle innings ahead of Dotel and Wagner.

    And don't use the excuse we couldn't afford him...if the Pirates can afford to sign him, surely we can come up with enough $ to keep him.

    BTW, what ever happened to Wilfredo Rodriguez? I know he was hurt last year, but he was our top pitching prospect 2 years ago and now I never even hear his name mentioned. It would be a great lift to the entire staff to have a power-lefty in the pen.

    Linebrink and Cruz have been horrible, while Stone has pitched surprisingly well, but overall the pen seems much weaker than last year.

    3) Third base...while I do think Ensberg is capable of being adequate, he seems like a clone of Truby. They both tear up AAA, but neither looks like a future stud in the bigs. And unlike last year, there's no Vinny Castilla to save the day. Hopefully the Astros have a plan B at third, because I just don't think Ensberg can be the starter on a championship club.

    IMO, the only way we improve from last year is to:

    -Find a rangy, fast CF to hit second and play great D in the OF. This would allow Berkman to go to left, where he is above average, and give us some speed ahead of Bags, Berkman, etc.
    -Get at least one reliable lefthander in the bullpen, either through a trade or a promotion.
    -Find a solid 3B to take over for Ensberg and protect Hidalgo.

    We have A LOT of valuable prospects to use as trade bait, including: Ward, Redding, Lidge, Ensberg, Lane, Buck, Pluta, Rosario, etc.

    While trading them would deplete the excellent depth we have in the minors, I think management owes it to Bagwell and Biggio to put together a team with the best chance to win NOW, not 3 years from now.

    Surely from the stock above, Hunsicker can find a CF, LHRP, and 3B to make this team a true playoff-contender, not first-round fodder.
     
  6. Buck Turgidson

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2002
    Messages:
    87,940
    Likes Received:
    86,688
    Jackson sucked & Williams didn't want to be a setup man - the Pirates gave him low-end closer $$$. Not sure about the decision making process on Villone; he was descent last year out of the pen & made a couple of great emergency starts, but let's not get carried away. He was 5-7 w/ a 5.56 ERA for the 'Stros last year. There's a reason he's pitched for 7 teams in the last 7 seasons. Remember what the 'Stros pen looked like at the beginning of last year? Now THAT was a crappy pen; there's plenty of time for Gerry to make changes.

    He had arm problems, attitude problems & getting-guys-out problems. He's not close to being ready to contribute in the bigs; I'm hoping he gets it together, but it doesn't look good.

    You mean a championship club like the Yankees or D-Backs, who've started the very impressive offensively inept Scott Brosius & over-the hill Matt Williams & Robin Ventura? Ensberg & Truby are 180 deg. opposites offensively. Ensberg's shown nothing but good things so far at the plate; don't worry, the power will show once he gets more comfortable. His plate discipline has been amazing so far (something Truby was truly horrible at), & he's vastly superior to Truby in the field also. If he struggles (which I'm not that concerned about), we'll make a move (July Rolen-rental anyone?).

    What CF'er? The Royals want to keep Beltran, the Rockies won't trade Pierre, the A's won't trade Terrence Long...so where is this young fast 2-slot hitting CF'er everyone's carping for? Cheito would be nice, but his career .332 OBP & 2:1 K:BB ratio don't exactly look like 2-hole material.

    Ensberg's had a whopping total of 18 at-bats so far...can we at least wait a month before we bury the kid?
     
  7. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 1999
    Messages:
    74,103
    Likes Received:
    20,990
    I've never read that the Rockies said they wouldn't trade Pierre...just that they wouldn't trade him for Hidalgo. How about for Hidalgo and a minor league pitching prospect?? That might open it up. I'd do that in a heartbeat!
     
  8. RunninRaven

    RunninRaven Contributing Member
    Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2000
    Messages:
    15,070
    Likes Received:
    2,756
    I have read on www.astrosconnection.com where Michael N said Wilfredo is going to have surgery this season and he will be out most of the year.
     
  9. Buck Turgidson

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2002
    Messages:
    87,940
    Likes Received:
    86,688
    The Rockies LOVE Pierre. You know how huge that OF at Coors Canaveral is, Pierre is invaluable to them; in addition he's a young speedy leadoff guy (something in extremely short supply in today's MLB) to set the table for Helton & Walker et al. I can't find the quote in the Denver papers, but this offseason Dan O'Dowd said something to the effect of Pierre being "untouchable, unless someone really blows us away".
     
  10. SamCassell

    SamCassell Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 1999
    Messages:
    8,873
    Likes Received:
    1,324
    Ensberg & Truby are 180 deg. opposites offensively. Ensberg's shown nothing but good things so far at the plate; don't worry, the power will show once he gets more comfortable. His plate discipline has been amazing so far (something Truby was truly horrible at), & he's vastly superior to Truby in the field also. If he struggles (which I'm not that concerned about), we'll make a move (July Rolen-rental anyone?).

    It's way too early to pass judgment on Ensberg. Through 7 games last season, Truby was slugging .750 with an OPS over 1.100. He still had an OPS over .900 as late as April 28 last season (then fell off the map). Check back with me in June.

    As for Rolen, I'd love to see him land on the Stros. But I wouldn't give up prospects to take him as a rental. If we could get him to sign long-term with us as part of a trade, great, otherwise I'd rather just bid for his services in free agency.

    Ensberg's defense hasn't impressed me so far, but his bat has been solid. I'd be happy with our 3B position if he could continue this level of production throughout the season.
     
  11. Milos

    Milos Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2001
    Messages:
    1,237
    Likes Received:
    1,140
    Buck-

    I'm not saying the Astros will be able to do all or any of the moves I proposed. My point was that the team, as it is presently constructed, does not seem superior to the team we ended last year with. I do not know of any viable solution to the CF problem, but can you honestly say you are comfortable with our outfield the way it is now?

    Still, if I had to pick one scenario which I think could be possible, it would be the logjam in Toronto. They have Stewart, Cruz Jr., and Vernon Wells; all rangy outfielders with speed who can play CF. I do not know which, if any, of these players they would be willing to part with, but I think some package involving Ward and a pitching prospect would be enough to pry at least one of them away. Ward would, IMO, be a perfect fit for them at DH, where I think they are currently using Stewart. Which lineup would you rather have:
    CF-Cruz/LF-Wells/DH-Stewart
    or
    CF-Cruz/LF-Wells/DH-Ward (who could hit 40+ HR batting between Delgado and Mondesi in the AL)

    As for Ensberg, I think the obvious solution, as mentioned earlier, would be Rolen. Of course, I also realize Drayton would be hesitant to acquire a player who could command $100 mil after this year.

    So other than Rolen, maybe a guy like Mark Texiera from the Rangers. Although he is one of the best hitting prospects in all of baseball, with Blalock and Lamb in front of him, its unlikely Texas would value him over a starter with the potential of Redding or one of our other young pitching studs. I'm not sure of his progress so far, but I remember reading a scouting report that said while his defense needs work, he is ready to hit ML pitching right now. Besides, with Everett there to help him out, the left side of the infield would still be solid defensively, and Ensberg isn't exactly a gold-glover.
     
  12. Buck Turgidson

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2002
    Messages:
    87,940
    Likes Received:
    86,688
    I know what you're saying, Milos, but I think it's way too early to make judgements regarding what changes need to be made.

    You're right about Toronto, that's the only team I can think of that has CF-types to spare. I like Stewart (offensively) better than Cruz; Stewart's played 5 times as many innings in LF than CF, so I'm not sure that he can play CF on a regular basis (there's a lot more to being a good defensive CF'er than speed, remember how bad Roger Cedeno was?). Overall, I'm not sure that the OF defense is considerably worse than last year. Alou, despite the fact that he made a few highlight-reel catches, was a very poor defensive RF'er. Ward isn't a butcher, he just doesn't have much range - from what I've seen he reads the ball well & gets good jumps, making up for his lack of speed (his positioning is important too, but that's up to the coaches). Berkman is adequite in CF, range-wise not really much of a drop-off from Hidalgo last year. Would I rather have a "true" CF'er that hits 1st or 2nd, gets on, steals bases & plays Gold-Glove caliber defense? Sure, but so would every other MLB team; there just aren't that many of them around.

    I also think it's way too early to say that we need a new 3rd sacker. I also think there's no way that Texas trades Teixeira or Blaylock anytime soon; they'll need a 1B pretty soon (Palmeiro can't play forever), and either could easily move to LF. Regarding Rolen, I doubt Philly will trade him until the deadline (if at all) because they think they can compete for the playoffs. I also wouldn't give up much for him, because there's no way he's worth the $15-20M per year Scott Boras has said they're expecting.
     
  13. Nomar

    Nomar Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2000
    Messages:
    4,429
    Likes Received:
    2
    I wouldn't be surprised if Rolen ended up in Boston...
     
  14. haven

    haven Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 1999
    Messages:
    7,945
    Likes Received:
    14
    Only a nightmare if you think that offense is less important than fielding. Which it isn't. Defense is just as important as offense: but there's about a 35/15 split between pitching and fielding. Hence, if a player has significant offensive advantages, but is a defensive liablity... then it's still usually a good idea to use him.

    So, you'd rather give up offense all-round? This argument is non-sensical for two reasons:

    1. Even bad defensive SS seldom have melt-downs like Lugo did. Yeah, he really screwed us. But then, even truly bad defensive players only give up errors once every few games.

    2. SS is by far the most important defensive position. While I think that high-defense, low-offense players are blackholes... well, I can at least semi-understand the argument at SS. In the OF, you need sluggers.

    It's also the most best outfield in the bigs offensively.

    Agreed. Our bullpen is attrocious.

    I think you overvalue Villone, but I think we should have kept Jackson in a reduced role and acquired someone else as well. We do need a long-reliever, though I think Villone was ill-suited for this.

    Give Cruz some time. He was fine last year, which means there's a decent chance he'll be fine this year. It's very early to give up on someone.

    Very poor assertion. Castilla was a very mediocre 3b. His OBP, even with the Astros, was very poor. He slugged decently, but didn't know the difference between a ball and a strike. Ensberg does.

    As of yet, Ensberg has shown very little power, but does have a .417 OBP. That's a very auspicious sign. If nothing else, Ensberg can undergo strength training.

    More foolishness. While speed is a nice attribute, it's not worth sacrificing much power for when you've got power hitters behind him.

    We do need the middle reliever.

    And Ensberg is probably better than anybody we could acquire at 3b. That .417 OBP makes my head-spin.

    pquote]We have A LOT of valuable prospects to use as trade bait, including: Ward, Redding, Lidge, Ensberg, Lane, Buck, Pluta, Rosario, etc.[/quote]

    Holy ****! You want a mid-market team to trade it's prospects in the beginning of the year. That's a terrible idea! The Astros have enough money to generally keep the home-grown guys and acquire decent relief help, what you suggest is suicide.

    And guarantees that 3 years from now, the astros would be terrible. What you suggest works in basketball, perhaps... but in baseball, rebuilding is a long, arduous prospect for teams without tons of money. The steady stream of quality prospects will keep the Astros in the winning column. Empty it out, like the Red Sox... and you're going back to the Lastros.

    The '98 team wasn't first round fodder. It was arguably the best team in the majors. But it lost anyway. The 99 team was actually very good as well. The first playoff team and the most recent ones were probably doomed. The 99 team really wasn't that good, and the 2001 team had too many injuries.

    I think that, generally speaking, the post-season is largely a matter of luck. Certainly, some teams are far more likely to win than others, but... Atlanta certainly fielded more than 1 "true playoff contender"s... but they don't have much to show for it. And the boring, tired formula that some people are so proud of, "pitching and defense," was Atlanta's trade-mark. They got out-hit, plain and simple.

    I was in favor of the RJ trade. Because, undeniably, it made the Astros, on paper, the best team in baseball. But trading prospects for veterans is a losing business unless you're the Yankees. And I'd rather the Astros make the playoffs more often, than gamble it all for one shot. Especially when all they'd need is a little bit of luck, anyway, once they get to the post season.

    Baseball, more than any other sport, is all about making the post-season. In basketball.. .it's nothing special. In football... nobody truly expects the wild card to win much. But in baseball, if you're in... you've got a chance. Out of all the teams... only 8 make it. And they're all pretty good. And if you get hot... you can win the World Series like the D'backs did last year.

    In summation: The OF is fine. Stewart would probably be a good solution in CF. But you can't give up more than Ward for him, and even that is pushing it. Ensberg is perfectly fine at 3b. We do need a LHRP. And a RHRP for that matter as well.
     
  15. Hey Now!

    Hey Now! Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2000
    Messages:
    14,222
    Likes Received:
    4,925
    Just last year we saw this: Lugo's crucial errors may very well have cost us the series. To correct this problem, we've given SS to Everett, and I agree with this move. It seems contradicting, however, to give up offense for defense at short, while sacrificing D in the outfield.

    but lugo's nowhere near capable of making up the difference at the plate to the degree ward, berkman and hidalgo are.

    each will drive in 75-100 runs, easily, and each will likely score that many as well. there's simply no way, no matter how slow or out of place they are in the field, that they'll cost houston more runs than they'll produce. not by a long shot.

    The bullpen...to me, the resurgence of the bullpen was the single most important element in our making the playoffs last year. Yet for some reason, management has decided to roll the dice with castoffs like Matthews and Pichardo this year.

    as opposed to the all-stars they employed last year? most of those guys were cast-offs.

    And don't use the excuse we couldn't afford him...if the Pirates can afford to sign him, surely we can come up with enough $ to keep him.

    yeah, but the pirates also aren't paying bagwell, biggio, hidalgo and wagner, all of whom, iirc, have larger yearly salaries than any single pirate.

    Linebrink and Cruz have been horrible, while Stone has pitched surprisingly well, but overall the pen seems much weaker than last year.

    i wouldn't fret; last year's pen was built on the fly. if the team stays in contention and the pen remains a problem, hunsicker will patch things up.

    -Find a rangy, fast CF to hit second and play great D in the OF. This would allow Berkman to go to left, where he is above average, and give us some speed ahead of Bags, Berkman, etc.

    and what bat do you take out of the lineup? i find it hard to believe there's a CF available who'd be more productive than ward, berkman or hidalgo. did not having a CF hurt them last year? and didn't they have a "true" CF in '98 and '99 with everett? and how many more playoff series did they win those years?

    -Get at least one reliable lefthander in the bullpen, either through a trade or a promotion.

    why would a team trade a reliable lefty? it's not like they grow on trees (witness: greg swindell still draws a paycheck for the dbacks.) these first two suggestions fall into the "much easier said than done" category.

    -Find a solid 3B to take over for Ensberg and protect Hidalgo.

    lineup protection is overrated -- wasn't castilla hitting behind hidalgo most of last year? let's give ensberg more than a week before giving up on him...

    We have A LOT of valuable prospects to use as trade bait, including: Ward, Redding, Lidge, Ensberg, Lane, Buck, Pluta, Rosario, etc.

    wait -- now ensberg's a vaulable prospect? then why trade him?

    While trading them would deplete the excellent depth we have in the minors, I think management owes it to Bagwell and Biggio to put together a team with the best chance to win NOW, not 3 years from now.

    they are winning NOW -- four division titles in five years.

    Surely from the stock above, Hunsicker can find a CF, LHRP, and 3B to make this team a true playoff-contender, not first-round fodder.

    if they're in the first round of the playoffs, then they're playoff contenders.

    but anyway, since you mentioned it, please list available players that fill your perceived holes and guarantee playoff success...
     
  16. Rocketman95

    Rocketman95 Hangout Boy

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 1999
    Messages:
    48,946
    Likes Received:
    1,365
    Ric, did you see my post about your site???
     
  17. Hey Now!

    Hey Now! Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2000
    Messages:
    14,222
    Likes Received:
    4,925
    uhm.... i don't think so...
     
  18. haven

    haven Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 1999
    Messages:
    7,945
    Likes Received:
    14
    Man, Ric... you and I might disagree about David Carr. But we seem to think very much alike on baseball!
     
  19. Rocketman95

    Rocketman95 Hangout Boy

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 1999
    Messages:
    48,946
    Likes Received:
    1,365
    When I try to go to the site from my home computers, I got to www.rotojunkie.com. The mixup happened when I was trying to activate my registration to the BBS.
     
  20. Hey Now!

    Hey Now! Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2000
    Messages:
    14,222
    Likes Received:
    4,925
    its likely your ISP; it just hasn't propogated the URL change to it yet (we swiched servers last week).

    you could also try clearing out your cache -- might work. if not, it's the ISP -- should be cool in a day or two. or three. maybe four. in the meantime, you can access us here: http://209.197.233.173
     

Share This Page

  • About ClutchFans

    Since 1996, ClutchFans has been loud and proud covering the Houston Rockets, helping set an industry standard for team fan sites. The forums have been a home for Houston sports fans as well as basketball fanatics around the globe.

  • Support ClutchFans!

    If you find that ClutchFans is a valuable resource for you, please consider becoming a Supporting Member. Supporting Members can upload photos and attachments directly to their posts, customize their user title and more. Gold Supporters see zero ads!


    Upgrade Now